Wants vs. Needs – Advanced

Scripture: Numbers 10-11

Learning Objectives:

  • Students will review God’s provisions of quail for the Israelites during their time in the desert.
  • Students will learn the difference between wants and needs.
  • Students will make lists to determine wants vs. needs when shopping. They will determine costs of each. Then use this knowledge to consider how they can use their opportunities for wants in order to spend resources to fulfill others’ needs.

Guiding Questions:

What are the differences between wants and needs?

How does my knowledge of wants and needs effect what I chose to buy and give?


Procedure: Review the story of God providing the Israelites with quail emphasizing how the Israelites’ needs were being met. Review the needs that a human must have met in order to live: food, water, shelter, relationships. Discuss that the Israelites needed food. Did God provide it? Yes. How? Manna. Then they wanted quail. God was gracious enough to provide that as well. Review how the Israelites grew tired of the quail just as God said they would.

Have students write a shopping list for the week. They can include whatever items they would buy at their local market or store. Indicate that needs at a grocery store are vegetables and bread. Wants would be cookies and sprinkles for a cake.

Have them highlight wants and needs in two different colors. Then students can estimate the price of each item. If the resources are available, have students research the typical cost of each item. Have them write the total cost of their list. Then have students write how much their needs alone cost. Next have them write the total cost of their wants. Let students consider the total cost of their wants. Discuss how knowing our own wants and needs helps when we budget money. Sometimes we need to be careful with what we spend. We can spend less money by focusing on our needs. Have students practice analyzing each other’s lists and some pre-created lists that the teacher prepares.

Then have them plan something else that they could do with that money to help others in need. Students can brainstorm how they can use the money and if time and resources allow, let students actually do it. Students can collaborate to write out their plan and how much money/resources it will take to budget.

Additional Questions:

  • Have you ever wanted something, received it, and then realized it was not as great as you had hoped? Tell about it.
  • How do wants and needs change depending on where you live and your community?
  • What are times when you use the phrase “I need…” unnecessarily? How can you change that phrase?

Supplemental Activities:

  • Consider how when people are in poverty, and how hard it is for them to get their needs met. Then when people give, often they only meet their most basic needs. Find a story of people who went above and beyond providing needs by also giving wants. Example: In Atlanta a professional chef provided a fancy meal for homeless people complete with waiters and a variety of menu choices. This made the people feel special especially since most people only donate cheap canned goods. Discuss how the way you serve others can be just as important as what you serve. Have students plan a way to serve people by providing their needs and wants that they would not usually have.
  • Have students analyze advertisements. How do advertisers try to make you believe that you need things that are actually wants? Have students write a paragraph comparing and contrasting needs and wants as depicted in the advertisement.

Written by: Savannah Negas

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